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UPDATE: SO I WASTED MORE TIME THAN I HAD TO SPARE WRITING THIS PIECE ONLY TO LEARN AS SOON AS I HAD POSTED IT THAT COULTER’S TALK AT BERKELEY IS TENTATIVELY BACK ON. I PROBABLY SHOULD JUST TRASH THIS PIECE, BUT WHAT THE HECK. HERE IT IS ANYWAY. NEW INFO ON COULTER BEING RESCHEDULED IS AT THE BOTTOM. CHEERS:

It’s not hard to imagine a group of conservatives in the Bay Area sitting around trying to think of some horrible person to invite to speak at Cal in order to make academics and liberals look bad.

Earlier this year the horrible person was Milo Yiannopoulos, who turned bigotry into a career that flamed out when he started championing pedophilia shortly after his abbreviated Berkeley appearance. Though numerous other colleges around the country had politely and quietly turned Milo away,  knowing that his campus appearances were intended largely as provocations, Cal had said OK and even let the junior Republicans on campus book him into the largest lecture space on campus.

To the surprise of no one, a semi-organized group of self-styled anarchists showed up and made a mess of things to the point that the show couldn’t go on. Just as the organizers had hoped, UC Berkeley officials were portrayed as weak-kneed hypocrites. The headlines told us that Berkeley, home of the free speech moment, had put a muzzle on provocative speech. Almost none of the news coverage mentioned the other  campuses that had simply uninvited Milo in the first place. Berkeley tried to stay true to its free speech roots and took it on the chin.

(Critics do make one good point, which is that it might have been smarter for the police officers on hand to have made some arrests rather than simply watch the unfolding shenanigans.)

For the young conservatives, earnest types who perhaps couldn’t get into Stanford and couldn’t afford USC, the Milo thing couldn’t have gone any better if they had planned it. Which they did. So they got back together and came up with another horrible person, Ann Coulter. You know who she is, and if you don’t, I’ll provide a glimpse of her shameless brand of racism in a moment.

The Berkeley brass was presented with the prospect of a Coulter appearance that was publicized before they had been consulted.  Look what happened the last time, they said as they declined to roll out a Coulter carpet. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, so we’ll pass.

And so the conservative crowd is huffing and puffing again. Their argument goes like this: Those liberals are just so close-minded, and they don’t want people to hear “the other side.” Which would seem to suggest that the conservative crowd is big on courting ideas contrary to their own, a notion for which there is slight supporting evidence.

Here, for them, is a sampling of what “the other side” has to say. It’s taken from Coulter’s most recent blog posting. Conveniently, it’s about immigration, which was to be her topic at Berkeley.

She writes:

… Breathing a sigh of relief that, unlike Western Europe, we don’t have Muslim rapists pouring into our country, recall that we have Mexican rapists pouring into our country.

Almost all peasant cultures are brimming with rapists, pederasts and child abusers. Latin America just happens to be the peasant culture closest to the United States, while the Muslims are closest to Europe.

According to North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, immigrants commit hundreds of sex crimes against children in North Carolina every month — 350 in the month of April 2014, 299 in May, and more than 400 in August and September. More than 90 percent of the perpetrators are Hispanic.

They aren’t even counting legal immigrants. Aren’t those worse? Only certain Republicans get excited about the difference between legal and illegal immigrants. The rest of America is trying to understand the point of the last 40 years of legal immigration. Why was this necessary?

Below is a very short excerpt from a few days in November 2013. As Stalin is supposed to have said, sometimes quantity has a quality all its own.

(She lists the names of a half dozen Hispanics arrested in North Carolina in 2013 before continuing)

… The list, for a single month in a single state, goes on in the same vein through 87 separate offenders. When not providing North Carolina meatpackers with cheap labor, immigrant workers seem to spend all their time raping little girls.

To be fair, there are also Asian names, such as Y’Hon Nie (Indecent Liberties With Child, First Degree Sex Offense-Child, Second Degree Sexual Offense); and David Vo Minh (First Degree Sex Offense-Child, Indecent Liberties With Child).

The stuff in italics above, that’s Coulter. There’s more, much more in every possible format. Those who might have been enlightened by her on campus have had plenty of previous opportunities to receive her message.

Sure, I would have preferred it if even someone as vulgar as Coulter had been allowed to speak, and that a reasonable number of police officers would have been on hand to keep the peace, and that people who don’t like Coulter’s hate-mongering could have held their signs while holding their noses.  I’m big on free speech. I think it’s great but I hate the way people of all persuasions play these little free speech games as they attempt to make “the other side” look bad. It’s not about ideas or expression. It’s a game, and it is tiresome.

Coulter’s immediate reaction was to say that the 1st Amendment essentially required Berkeley to host her, presumably along with  anyone else with any kind of message. Which is nonsense. Even Coulter knows the 1st Amendment says you can say most anything you want but it doesn’t require you or me or anyone else to provide you with a platform.

So here’s what I would do if I was in charge. I’d send a letter to Coulter telling her all about Cal’s  Sproul Plaza, made famous by Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, the movement that made Berkeley synonymous with free speech. I’d probably include some photos of past events at Sproul, and I’d invite Coulter to take advantage of all that space the next time she’s in Berkeley. I’d also remind her that  graduation ‘s coming right up so she shouldn’t dally if she wants to draw a crowd.

SO HERE’S THE UPDATE INFO FROM THURSDAY P.M., AS TOLD BY THE WASHINGTON POST

Officials at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday reversed their decision to cancel a speech by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter.

The university had announced Wednesday that it was canceling Coulter’s appearance following several political protests in Berkeley that turned violent.

But on Thursday, the university reversed its position, saying officials had found a venue where they could safely hold the speech on May 2, instead of the original April 27 date. However, a leader of the college Republican group that originally invited Coulter said the university was placing strict conditions on the event, and he said his group intended to reject the new terms.

Before the reversal was announced, Coulter had vowed to go ahead with an appearance anyway. That probably would have put security officials on high alert and might have sparked another showdown in struggles over campus safety, student views and ideological openness.

“What are they going to do? Arrest me?” she said late Wednesday on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Coulter said she “called their bluff” by agreeing to rules set by the university seeking to prevent violence.

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In the past six months, at least six U.S. universities have canceled scheduled appearances by white supremacist agitator Milo Yiannopoulis. In most cases, the Steve Bannon protégé had been invited by campus Republican groups. The University of Miami was one of the first to cancel, based on security concerns. That speech would have been in June.

NYU canceled a talk set for November. According to the Inside Higher Ed website, Florida Atlantic University canceled a talk that would have occurred in September. At Villanova, a campus group announced Yiannopoulis was coming but the university put out a statement say that wasn’t going to happen.

Yiannopoulis made an appearance at DePaul in May, provoking some fairly strong protest, strong enough that the university nixed a repeat performance planned for the fall.

But UC Berkeley, the campus joined at the hip with free speech, expended considerable time, money and energy to try to accommodate a Yiannopoulis talk on Wednesday and is now being denounced as the campus that killed free speech. (The same thing happened, in less dramatic fashion, at UC Davis earlier, but Davis never had Berkeley’s special reputation.)

Amid a peaceful protest by some 2,000, many of them students, an estimated 150 militants from off campus invaded the campus a couple of hours before the scheduled talk. They broke windows, set fires, set off firecrackers, and hooted and hollered to the point that the university, in consultation with its highly experienced police department, canceled the talk. And across this seemingly intelligent land, conservatives and liberals alike fell for the cheap narrative, taking to social media, letters to the editor and any other forums they could find to denounce UC Berkeley for embracing or even promoting intolerance.

If the university administration had simply wanted to muzzle obnoxious opinion, it could have said no from the start, like so many others had done. There would have been a couple of news stories and our charming new president, the boss of Yiannopoulis’ boss, might have tweeted out something about those hippies out in California. But there would have been no dramatic footage, no fireworks, no visuals to coax poorly informed people to lash out at pointy-headed university types without a moment’s thought to all the places that had simply told Milo to stay away.

This provocation by a man who makes his living by promoting misogyny and racism worked as planned, even prompting Trump to hint at ending federal aid to the UC system.

The propagandists even have some people believing that some rich liberals paid the protesters to disrupt the speech. Try to imagine George Soros handing out cash to the anarchists of the East Bay with instructions to go nuts. People with some semblance of common sense in their day-to-day lives are “liking” Facebook posts with that message and retweeting similar nonsense, without giving any thought at all to NYU or the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic, Villanova or DePaul. Maybe Soros dropped off some cash at those campuses.

Am I saying those other schools should have provided a forum for such a creepy character? In truth, that’s a tough question but here’s the way I lean. When it becomes obvious that the intent of the speaker is to irritate rather than inform, to provoke rather than prod, and it is obvious that someone is going to get hurt, I might unhappily fall into the camp that says that while the First Amendment protects your right to say whatever it is you want to say, it doesn’t require me to give you a forum.

I’m glad the Berkeley brass tried to accommodate the fellow but it should be recognized that keeping him away would not have prevented anyone from receiving his hateful message. Any young person receptive to his world view has received it or could fill the void by clicking on You Tube. The earnest young Republicans at Berkeley and NYU and DePaul who invited Milo, I’m guessing they had more on their minds than enriching the academic experience by bringing in a thought-provoking speaker. Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that some of them were happy when the events were canceled. Point made. Those liberals are just soooo intolerant.

A final point. While I’m disappointed by those who have attacked the university without thinking it through, I’ve also been disappointed by the news coverage. KSBW’s 11 o’clock newscast last night was a fine example. The story line went like this. Controversial speaker was going to talk at Berkeley but the students rioted so it didn’t happen and the president might cut off federal funding and here’s some film. But mind you, this was the newcast Thursday night, not Wednesday night. There was time to gather an interview or two, some information about the identities of the violent protesters and maybe some context about what had happened elsewhere, but, hey, that might have interfered with our wakeup forecast.

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